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On track as dining spot
The Ironhorse Grill is at East Yosemite and Lincoln avenues. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
The afternoon lines often extends out onto the sidewalks of the 300 block of East Yosemite Avenue as walk-up customers in the heart of Manteca’s commercial center have taken to the unique American-based menu that offers everything from sandwiches and salads.

It’s been three weeks since the Ironhorse Deli in downtown Manteca first started taking orders from customers.

It’s all a sign that Vinnie Bhan’s vision for making downtown Manteca a viable trade center – even in an economic downturn – is slowly starting to work.

It took Bhan – who spent almost three years working with the City of Manteca on the plans to develop the property – a whole lot of his own money to take a unique approach at renovating a place that he has grown to love in more than three decades as a Manteca resident.

“I’ve lived here for more than 30 years, and downtown has always been the heart of the city,” said Bhan. “It has the look and the feel of a classic downtown, and there has been a lot of talk of renovating it to turn it back into what it once was.

“We figured that we would try to contribute in a way that we could, and taking this building and converting it into what we have now was a way we thought that was possible.”

On top of renovating the outside of the building on the corner of Lincoln and Yosemite Avenues, Bhan also secured the franchise rights for the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. It was one of the hot spots for local shoppers for this past Valentine’s Day as the line stretched outside the building and around the corner.

With the piece of property that faces Yosemite Avenue, Bhan figured that he’d place the same type of walk-up eatery that you’d find in other cities – giving another option to people downtown and possibly bringing more people into the historic district.

“The people of Manteca have been wonderful to us,” Bhan said of supporting his business ventures – including the most recent additions in the chocolate shop and the deli. “People have asked me about possibly placing a table and chairs outside for them to sit and enjoy their lunch, and that’s something that we’ll have to look into.”

While American cuisine dominates the menu – which draws heavily on the railroad theme with offerings like the locomotive Philly cheesesteak sandwich, the coal train Reuben, and the caboose French dip – Bhan also plans to eventually add East Indian take out for those looking for something a little bit different.

He also says that he’s secured a cook that has more than two decades of experience serving customers in the Reno area to help bring the freshest options to those looking for a new dining experience.

“We love being here in downtown Manteca,” Bhan said of the location.

“That’s why we decided to do this – we love being a part of this community and we’re thankful for the support that we’ve received over the years.”

The Ironhorse Grill is located at 301 E. Yosemite Avenue, on the corner of Lincoln and Yosemite Avenues, and is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. – with extended summer hours planned. Phone orders can be placed by calling 823-3888.